Nascar in Charlotte … A Fan’s View of Who Could Win This Weekend, (For The Record)

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It is no surprise Nascar is in Charlotte, NC this weekend. They’re supposed to be. I just wanted to say a few things for the record. What this is about is my opinion of who is going to win the Sprint Cup race this weekend.

First of all, I have to admit there is one in particular that I would rather see win, but, I fear you might think I am biased if I told you, so I won’t. I would rather just express who I think will win and if it happens to be the person I would most like to see win, all the better. If not, then I chose the right one anyway, (especially if the person I pick wins.)

Okay, enough rambling. Let’s take a look at the stronger runners in Friday afternoon’s Happy Hour practice. I have to admit that Jimmy Johnson looks pretty strong and actually finished with the fastest lap times for the practice. Carl Edwards was a very close second and could prove to be the real competition for Jimmy. If you just look at the practice session times, it looks as though this one is going to be an endurance run for the two on the front row. I guess I can’t get away from the fact that Greg Biffle is starting inside on the second row. With the results of his testing it looks as though he will be tough also and I have to throw him into the possible mix.

I would say that most think Jimmy Johnson and Carl Edwards are the two front runners this weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t agree with the masses. I mention this because the same thing that happened at Talladega last week could very likely affect the outcome this week (although I don’t think Carl Edwards will be the “culprit”). Racing at Lowe’s Speedway offers the possibility for a “Big One” that can take out any of the top contenders at any time during the race. We’ve seen that carnage before especially on restarts later in the race. We’ve also seen the absolute unexpected happen very near the end of the race that radically changes the final result. In fact, that happened to Ryan Newman in the race at this time last year.

Tony Stewart was awfully strong on the long runs in practice Friday afternoon and that could cause a person to think he is a real contender for the checkered flag Saturday night. I think he has an excellent chance, but he isn’t the one I believe is going to win.

Kevin Harvick is due and so is Jeff Burton, but, they don’t top my list either although I do believe they will be contenders in the race.

Brian Vickers or Casey Kane would be my dark-horse candidates and could very possibly play into the mix at the end. I think it all depends on how the action in the pits and the strategy for tires and fuel plays out.

That brings us to a couple of drivers that are quite capable, although unlikely, to win. Jamie McMurray and Jeff Gordon, ( I can’t believe I am saying Jeff Gordon is unlikely to win). Personally, I think a lot of things need to go right for both of them for either one of them to end up in victory lane. If this were last year, I would have to give the edge to Jeff Gordon simply because of the way the breaks just seemed to go right for him most of the time last year. (That hasn’t been the case this year.) Jamie McMurray has been up and down all year, (I guess most every year he’s been in Cup so far, but he does have the capability to take it to victory lane). It is hard for me to choose him as the winner this weekend simply because of the inconsistency factor and some bad breaks.

With forty three great drivers in the field and all of them lined up according to points because of the rain-out of qualifying, who do I choose out of the forty-three starters?? It is a really hard decision, but, I choose Jeff Gordon. I think he is absolutely due for a good finish even though the odds are against him and I do believe he is going to get his first victory of the season this weekend.

Well … there it is. I know it’s a long shot, but, that’s the way I see it and I’m sticking with it … this week anyway. I think it goes without saying, next week could be a different story …

See ya next time …

Rusty

Update on: “Nascar At Talladega … A Fan’s View… “

Well, I’ve had a chance to listen to a few of the day after the day after chatterings and I find that more than one person actually agrees with me. It makes me feel good to know that I’m not totally out in left field.

Although I’m sure there will be those that disagree, I think I’m in pretty good company. Jeff Burton, I find today, stated yesterday that he thought the yellow line should be thought of as a wall. That was only one thing he said but I am glad that my statement agreed with one as knowledgeable he is. It makes me think I am on the right track in my thinking processes.

According to reporters on Sirius Radio, Mike Helton clarified the rule yesterday by stating that in the future there would be no passing below the yellow line, “PERIOD”. I guess that pretty much removes any debate on the issue. I am glad a definitive statement has been made. He effectively removed any gray area.

Now for my own view of what Regan Smith states. I’ve surmised from listening to multiple interviews over the last three days, that the way he understands it, Nascar has basically told him the next time he should spin the person out and cause a big wreck.

I personally don’t agree with his assessment. My opinion of what they told him in the trailer was that “he should have held his line” (at least in listening to him explain it while being interviewed by more than one person on tv and radio.)

My understanding from what has been reported is that they told him to “hold his line” rather than dodge further to the left. Now remember, this is just my opinion, but this is not telling him to take a hard right into Tony’s left rear fender and purposely spin him out. If he would have held his line at Talladega this last weekend then it would have been up to Tony Stewart to control his car after making contact from the blocking maneuver. As I see it Tony then has two choices himself. If he continues blocking to the left, there is a good possibility he will spin to the infield. If he moves slightly to the right, then the race is on to the flag, no harm no foul.

I am sure there are many out there that have differing opinions and comments on this subject. My opinion is, “feel free to comment” don’t remain silent. Speak up! I’m going to.

I think the Yellow line is a good rule and that Nascar made the right decision on Sunday afternoon. That’s my view and I’m sticking with it …

See ya next time …

Nascar at TallaDega — A Fan’s View Of The Day After Chatter

The exciting, yet slightly controversial, finish to the Sprint Cup race at Talladega yesterday left me no choice except to comment. Being a long time Nascar fan and an ex-small track racer I have my own opinion and view of what happened, especially at the end. Believe me, I don’t mention either of these two previous items to brag or somehow get you to subscribe to the fact my opinion somehow carries more weight than someone else’s, but, I do want you to know where my limited expertise comes from.

I have been a stock car racing fan for many years starting with going to the Saturday night races with my parents at the dirt tracks in Southern Illinois way back in the Fifties. After we moved to Florida when I was 10 or 11, I kinda lost touch with racing for a while. Although I’ve actually loved racing as long as I can remember, I never really got the chance to have my own car until I was in my early twenties. I frequented and raced at a couple of small asphalt tracks in our area of SW Florida for over 10 years.

I really don’t remember when I began to listen to, or watch, Nascar racing but I do know it was a long time ago and I have seen a lot of changes take place over those years. I won’t say every change has been for the better, but overall, most everything seems to have improved the quality and closeness of the competition.

Though some may disagree with that statement, I stand by it. When I was racing it didn’t bother me at all to be the one to lap the field. When I watch racing, the last thing I want is someone lapping the field, clearly outclassing them and then knowing the only real race worth watching is for third to fifth, (or maybe even worse.)

Ah, but I digress. Perhaps I will tell you more abut my memories of the past at another time. Instead, I would much rather give my “Fan’s View” of yesterday’s Talladega race while it is still fresh in everyone’s mind.

First of all, it was my opinion the race was a really good TV event and that was because of the appearance of real racing for position throughout most of the event. Because there was an abundance of passing for position on a regular basis, I guess most of us thought the drivers were giving it their all right from the start.

This illusion was only slightly diminished when commentator Dale Jarret asked Dale Jr how the race was going in one of the “in-car reporter” interviews. It seems most were just killing time waiting for the final 10-15 laps. One of the memorable statements from that particular interview was when Dale Jr said that if a person was in second it was only because he wanted you in front of him, (or something really close to that.) It was his opinion everyone could pretty much pass at will but no one could really stay out front on their own.

After some tire problems and two “big ones” occurred the whole race came down to the last few laps and, as is the case normally, the very last one in particular. I watched it happen as it unfolded on the Tv screen and I listened to the explanations afterwards. I basically knew what the ruling would most likely be from my understanding of the yellow line rule, but I did find interesting the reaction of many on this, the day after and immediately after the race.

You see, it doesn’t really matter what I think about the judgment call that led to the declaring of a winner to the race so I won’t give you my opinion just yet. Logically though, what happened to Regan Smith happened for a reason and I would like to offer some input from my understanding of the reason for the “Yellow Line.” Admittedly, much of this could be considered assumption from input gathered from what has been talked about by many. Please understand, I don’t pretend to speak for Nascar, but in my amateur understanding there is a reason for having a yellow line marking an out of bounds area that makes sense.

First of all, did Regan Smith win the race?

  • Well, maybe but not necessarily according to the established rules for the race. I won’t go into the statement of the rule for the “yellow line” that has been quoted from the drivers’ meeting, you can look that up for yourself. What is important here is that Nascar needs to make clear to all concerned exactly what they mean so that there will be no more misunderstanding.

Here are some options concerning this situation as I see it:

  • Option one: Nascar could have required the tracks build an inside wall and, by doing so, that would remove any possibility of a driver passing another on the inside. Since that would be extremely dangerous in case of an accident involving cars crashing into the inside wall, it would not be a good idea.
  • Option two: Nascar could have required curbing be installed to mark the boundary. This would not be a good idea because cars could easily climb the curbing causing any number of bad situations to occur. The curbing could be a deterrent but more likely cause more problems than it would solve.
  • Option three: Nascar could have left things the way they were and have drivers trying to outdo each other to get the shortest way around the track. This would allow driving “through the grass” to the win. In some ways this may seem appealing. In my opinion, however, this does not make for a great ending. It makes the track way to wide. With the limitations of restrictor-plate racing, the racers need the advantage of being able block, (boy, I bet that opens up a can of worms).

What Nascar chose to use was an invisible barrier extended above an area represented by a yellow line on the inside of the racing surface. They use the yellow line to make it easier to determine when someone violates the established rule. After that it becomes a judgment call. If a driver races below the line and advances his position he will be black flagged. If a driver forces someone below the line it is possible he may be the one black flagged.

I think the idea of the yellow line makes a lot of sense, but without consistency it will always be a call based on judgment. They can solve the problem by making sure it is understood by all that you cannot go below the yellow line to advance your position as if there were a wall there. I know if one was there, nobody would be trying to stick their nose in and take the chance of hitting the wall. The same goes for the one out front. If he can’t hold his position next to the line (once again, as if it were actually a wall), he too will have to forfeit his position in some way.

I know this could possibly be an over-simplification of the problem, but, it is the way I see it …

See ya next time …